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Thread: Late onset infection (16 yrs after original surgery)

  1. #1
    Join Date
    Jun 2011
    Mississauga, ON, Canada

    Late onset infection (16 yrs after original surgery)


    I have recently learned that the draining sore on my back (located directly on my scar) is actually an infection. The dr who performed the surgery 16 yrs ago has told me that I now require another surgery in order to clean up the infection but that removal of the instrumentation may also be necessary (he won't know for sure until he goes in). I'm now on antibiotics until I have the surgery in the fall. The research I've done talked about an incidence rate of 1.7-6%, and the average was 5 yrs post surgery -- not 16.

    I tried to search this forum but often the infection was related to the original surgery. Is there anyone out there that has experienced something similar? I'm very interested in hearing your experiences.


  2. #2
    Join Date
    Jun 2009
    In Oct, when my surgeon was explaining to me the possible reasons for my discomfort (as we scheduled my hardware removal), I remember that he said an infection can be present (in the hardware) and remain asymptomatic for a long time, and that he had one pt who was 11 years post-op before she exhibited any symptoms.

    Hopefully, it'll be an easy fix. Good luck!
    Fused T-3 to L-3, Aug 25
    Hardware removal surgery, Nov 2, 2010
    Fused T-10 to L-2, osteotomy, Feb 22, 2011

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Sep 2003
    Northern California
    Hi Katherine...

    Although relatively rare, we've seen patients who have infections well after the initial surgery.

    Here's a case study:

    I don't think anyone really knows how many of these late onset infections occur, because so many people would have changed physicians (because they moved, because they are no longer a pedatric patient, because their physican is no longer practicing, etc.).

    Never argue with an idiot. They always drag you down to their level, and then they beat you with experience. --Twain
    Surgery 2/10/93 A/P fusion T4-L3
    Surgery 1/20/11 A/P fusion L2-sacrum w/pelvic fixation

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Jun 2011
    Mississauga, ON, Canada
    Thanks, Linda & MGS.

    Has anyone heard of hyperbaric oxygen therapy to treat/erradicate the infection? I fear my doc might laugh me out of his office if I broach it. As you can probably tell, I'm not keen on surgery and am willing to try alternative treatments.

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Nov 2010
    San Diego, CA
    I don't know about Hyperbaric O2 treatments but I wanted to comment on the delayed infection.

    My boss recently had an infection in his artificial knee (knee replacement) 10+ years after it was done. He'd had no trouble with the artificial joint for all of those years. He ended up with IV antibiotics and a series of surgeries and came out great with another new knee.

    He was told that the problem could have resulted from a cut on his leg some time prior to his knee swelling up or some dental problems he'd had a few months prior also.

    Best wishes to you as you treat this!

    treated w Milwaukee Brace FT for 3 yrs
    currently 46 with 35 LL and 40 RT curves

    8 yr old diagnosed w Scoli 8/10 with 27 LL and 27 RT
    11/10 TLSO Full Time
    4/11 22 LL and 24 RT on waiting list for VBS at Shriners Phila
    12/11 curves still in the 20s but now has some rib cage changes from the brace
    VBS 4/25/12 with Dr. Samdani. Pre Op: 29 RT and 25 LL Post Op: 17 RT and 9 LL
    10/13: 15 RT and 10 LL

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